Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My hot new affair

This morning there was a knock on the door at 8:30. I quietly snuck my guest into the house before the neighbours noticed. By the time my guest left 2 hours later, I was completely, utterly in love. The house seemed to dance with light I never noticed before. I could not stop smiling. I'm still smiling.

You might think it was my infatuation that made the house seem to sparkle, but no. It was the scent of freshly vinegared floors, hand washed. It was the cleanliness of my fridge, the emptiness of my dishwasher, the lack of pee stains on my toilet. My new love's name is Rosanna.

In the past, I've felt icky about hired help. I've also had a couple (exactly two) bad experiences where I was either overcharged or the person did not do a good job. But I've also had countless fights with my husband about household chores and who was and who wasn't pulling their weight. In fairness, I may not be very clean, but he might be a little housecleaning blind. In fact, just the other night while I was Windexing my sister's glass coffee table, he gasped, "You don't even do this in your own house!" To which I replied curtly, "When have you ever dusted anything in our house?"

"Um, never."

"Yeah, that's right. And somehow things get dusted, don't they? Amazing how that happens. Remind me to thank the dusting fairies." Admittedly, the dusting fairies don't visit our house on a regular basis. They only seem to appear when the expresso wood furniture is white and I am revolted beyond words.

When we first moved into this tiny house, we thought the dishwasher would save our marriage. But one machine was not enough. Then we thought the slow-cooker would save our marriage. Two machines were not enough. But Rosanna, sweet, sweet Rosanna -- I think she's the ticket.

I pay her a fair wage -- not much less than what I make per hour. She's not working for some Molly Pimp. She genuinely wants to help.

I'm working. And not seeing my children. And though I'm not dying to play Thomas trains at the end of the day, it's preferable to vacuuming. The cat is shedding. (And hanging out with the smokey pirate across the street.) And Lucy is crawling -- backwards -- but she's on the floor all the time. My very dirty floor.

Rosanna says her own house is messy. When I suggest that it's because the last thing she wants to do after cleaning all day is more cleaning, she shakes her head "no." Her kids are adults now. She spends her evenings at the humane society walking the dogs. She tears up when she talks about them. My heart leaps out of my chest and tries to wrap itself around her. She is human, a person, one that I instantly feel close to. And I don't feel the least bit ick when I hand her the wad of twenties.

She gives me a tour of my own house to show me how clean it is. "We'll do more next time we come. We ran out of time because it was so..." she wavers. "Dirty," I complete her sentence without an ounce of shame. I am no good at keeping my house clean. It's time I accepted it.

I immediately beg her to return in two weeks. When Rosanna opened her arms to hug me before I showed her out, I knew she had liked me too. I've had this stupid grin on my face all day. I can't walk into the kitchen without getting teary. I miss her already.

It feels frivolous, but her cost is reasonable, about the same as having both my kids in care for a day so I could clean myself. Except thanks to Rosanna, I can just be with my kids instead of being with my kids and staring at the dust under the TV cabinet, wishing I could be as nonchalant about dirt as Phyllis Diller.

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing."

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